So up until now I’ve felt like the Galaxy Note 2 is really just a larger Galaxy S 3 with an active digitizer. But the 1280x720 HD SAMOLED display at 5.5 inches diagonal is where the Note 2 begins to strongly diverge from that trend. First off, it’s bigger than the Note’s HD SAMOLED which was 5.3" and 1280x800.

 


Galaxy Note 2 (left), Galaxy Note (right)

When I heard that Samsung was going to be doing a Note 2, I originally suspected that they would use the original Note’s display in conjunction with the hardware platform I outlined earlier. Instead, Samsung has gone with an entirely new revision of HD SAMOLED yet again for the Note 2, one that represents an interesting middle ground between a traditional RGB stripe like you’d see on an LCD and the RG BG Nouvoyance PenTile tech that we’ve seen countless times and iterated through a few different geometries to date.

With Galaxy Note 2, Samsung has gone with an entirely new subpixel rendering matrix, which I’ve heard was going to be called S Stripe. Instead of the previous PenTile tech which used two subpixels per logical pixel (either RG or BG), this new subpixel geometry uses 3 subpixels per pixel (RGB) but with a green subpixel above the red subpixel and a long vertical blue subpixel.

The reason for this change in geometry has always been an interesting one. The blue material has a lower luminous efficiency than the other colors, and thus requires either a larger area or higher drive power to match the equivalent green and red luminance. This is why you hear people saying the blue subpixel ages faster — sure, at the same size it ends up burning out faster due to this lower efficacy.

The mitigation is thus to craft a matrix that allows for a nonuniform geometry, and this one brilliantly does it without the tradeoff in longevity or loss of spatial resolution from going to two subpixels per pixel. The tradeoff that does get made is that subpixel smoothing only really gets two pixels to turn off - the blue, or the red and green unit. In the past the display driver could handle the RGBG unit cell and do font smoothing, from what I’ve seen the above is how the new one works as well.

I’m not complaining, this is a great tradeoff and makes sense for the resolution and size that Samsung has selected for the Note 2. Going with a PenTile RGBG layout at this size would not be desirable, instead the “S Stripe” layout runs with subpixels small enough that I can’t see them. It’s tempting to look at the 1280x800 of the Note and the 1280x720 of the Note 2 and assume it’s lower resolution, when in fact the Note 2 has more subpixels (2.05 MP vs 2.76 MP) and in spite of the size increase stays around the magical 1 arcminute subtense (1.073 arcminutes on Note 2).

Brightness (White)

The Note 2’s brightness unfortunately isn’t that high, but like always Samsung makes up for it with huge contrast from the black subpixels being almost entirely dark. I have a feeling this is still being very conservative for the panel for battery life concerns and to minimize both aging effects and burn-in.

Next up is color accuracy and calibration, where Samsung AMOLED has traditionally been very oversaturated — which looks vibrant and draws customers in at stores — but results in inaccurate rendering. We’re using Chris’ new suite here which is in CalMAN 5, I touched on the details in the iPhone 5 review.


 


 


Our target is sRGB, as Android doesn’t have a CMS, and the Galaxy Note 2 doesn’t stop the trend of SAMOLED having a gamut much larger than sRGB. At the same time however things could be much worse. I also measured the Galaxy Note 2 display at maximum brightness with Francois who said much the same thing - it isn’t alltogether bad among SAMOLED displays.

Color temperature at 200 nits is around 7000K but as the blue subpixel wears it will warm up and get closer and closer to 6500K. Overall the Galaxy Note 2 display makes some tradeoffs but ends up being quite appealing. There’s still something to be said for how contrasty AMOLED is even if it still is oversaturated compared to sRGB.

CalMAN Display Comparison
Metric iPhone 5 iPhone 4S HTC One X Samsung Galaxy S 3 Samsung Galaxy Note 2
Grayscale 200nits Avg dE2000 3.564 6.162 6.609 4.578 5.867
CCT Avg (K) 6925 7171 5944 6809 7109
Saturation Sweep Avg dE2000 3.591 8.787 5.066 5.460 7.986
GMB ColorChecker Avg dE2000 4.747 6.328 6.963 7.322 8.185

 

Camera Analysis - Video Cellular Connectivity, WiFi, GNSS
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  • MaziarKia - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    Great review but the battery life results are kinda odd.
    In all GN2 reviews that I've read around the web,it performed better than any other phone(with the exception of Razr MAXX)
    Reply
  • geniekid - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    Where are these other reviews? Were they as rigorous with their testing as AT is?

    Not trying to call you out. I'm genuinely curious.
    Reply
  • MaziarKia - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    gsmarena,phonedog etc. Reply
  • sherlockwing - Saturday, April 06, 2013 - link

    It is completely possible for AnandTech's Battery test to be very unfair toward AMOLED display phones. Reply
  • jamyryals - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    Brian and Anand have talked about this on their podcast recently. Specifically, the choices you make when creating a benchmark. They try to remove the bottlenecks, via benchmark design, that would unduly stress a certain aspect of the device (ie baseband). Their goal was to get as much of a mix in stressing components as possible. Sounds like a hard task given the very different hardware in these devices. Reply
  • The0ne - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    Since the original, I've been waiting for the update and now that it's finally here I think it's time to upgrade my basic 8525 phone to the next generation "smartphone" and pay the fine..fees that comes along with it. I plan to make the most out of this phone for personal and business.

    1. Reading
    2. Planning
    3. Office apps
    4. Music
    5. Movies
    6. Map/Travel

    Having a larger screen just makes it much more appealing for all the stuff I want to do, especially reading. Just a personal taste mind you.
    Reply
  • PeteH - Thursday, October 25, 2012 - link

    I notice your task list doesn't include phone calls. Maybe you should get a tablet instead. Reply
  • ascian5 - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    Great review per usual Brian.

    Please get out the Lumia 920 ASAP! Heh. Until I can play with these phones in person, and likely even then, I'm really on the fence as to what phone to go with. This doesn't happen often with me and tech, but I'm really on the fence between these 2 devices.
    Reply
  • OCN's_3930k - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    I spy razr i results... is it getting a review? Reply
  • wicktron - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    There's a severe lack of trolls on the comments section of this review. It's appalling. I miss the trolls that enter the Apple reviews and talk smack about Apple products being toys and the inability for them to be used for any real work. What happened here, guys? Where art thou, troll!?

    :(
    Reply

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